On This Day in Bruins History: Don Cherry’s Coaching Legacy Remembered

(Photo Credit: The Boston Globe / File Photo 1974)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

On this day in Bruins history, July 5th, 1979, the fiery Don Cherry’s firing got a post fireworks replacement in Fred Creighton as the new B’s bench boss. But the story that Summer, and many subsequent Summers, was always about the foul-mouthed father of the Big, Bad Bruins of the ’70s.

For five fired-up seasons (1974-1979), Cherry led the Bruins to four division titles and back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Final in 1977 and 1978.

One of his most infamous coaching moments came the following season in what many hockey historians believe should have been his third trip to the SCF — and the one in which he finally won!

In the waning moments of regulation during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup semis against the Montreal Canadiens, the hated Habs scored on a “too many men on the ice” penalty call against the Bruins.

That tied the game… a game in which the Black ‘N Gold would eventually lose to the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge in OT. As Sports Illustrated reflected on one of hockey’s most unforgettable games, and finishes:

“It was a typical Canadiens/Bruins dogfight. And I don’t think any minor or major penalty in NHL history ever, ever went down as THEE CALL the way this one did.”

Brian Cazenueve, SI

Cherry himself would liken the truly frozen moment in time to another moment so much darker and graver, thus proving the old hockey adage that it’s an all-or-nothing game. He said: “It’s funny. I have guys that come up to me — and this is totally not the same — but you know, when [President] Kennedy was shot, everybody knows where they was.”

And many are still talking about to this day after a “too many men” non-call came up during the Avs/Lightning in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals!

So, it seems Cherry can still be the talk of the town even some 40+ years after “The Don was dismissed” from Boston. In fact, it was Cherry’s continuous talking on Hockey Night in Canada that also led to his dismissal from there (as you’ll note from the clip above… his language — love him or hate him — has always been colorful bordering on downright cringe-worthy).

Nevertheless, his tenure as the man behind the bench for the B’s, even if it at times his voice definitely felt like there were too many men back there, will long be remembered… faults and shortcomings not excluded.

“Mostly my fault…I turned the players against everybody. Like I say, family. We hated the league. We hated everybody. And [then Bruins General Manager] Harry Sinden got caught in the middle. But he couldn’t fire me, because we kept winning. But . . . it was just me being a dink.”

Don Cherry from the article “An Original” — Kevin Paul Dupont, Boston Globe

For more historical articles as well as B’s alumni celebrations and tributes, check back in with Team BN’G weekly all Summer long!

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